Bellini® Strawberry Crape MyrtleLagerstroemia indica ‘Strawconbel' (PP# 33,517)
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Lagerstroemia indica ‘Strawconbel' (PP# 33,517)
Outdoor Growing zone
The Bellini Strawberry Crape Myrtle is a compact variety, growing 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. The glossy leaves are deep green and turn orange or yellow in fall. Every stem is topped with a ball of blossoms, ruffled and frilled, that keep coming from mid-summer right into fall. The vibrant strawberry-pink is good enough to eat, and explodes out of your beds with a color-lift you won’t believe. Like a cocktail for your garden, it’s a delicious addition anywhere, including in planter boxes and pots.
Full sun is best for the Bellini Strawberry Crape Myrtle, which won’t bloom well in shade. All well-drained soils are suitable, even poor, dry soils and urban gardens. Water new plants regularly, but once established this plant is very drought resistant. Deer don’t bother it, it’s generally pest free, and it doesn’t suffer from diseases like powdery mildew, that disfigure older varieties every summer. Trim in early spring by shortening back the branches, but don’t cut new growth, as this reduces flowering.
Nothing says ‘summer’ like a bowl of delicious strawberries, and nothing says ‘colorful’ like the deliciously-beautiful Bellini Strawberry Crape Myrtle. The delightful strawberry-red of its beautiful blooms is only the beginning, because this compact, colorful bush is guaranteed to be a winner in your garden, if summer color is your goal. If you only know big, old-fashioned crape myrtles, then you are in for a tasty treat with this new, dwarf variety that blooms prolifically from mid-summer into fall, asking almost nothing of you, and thriving in those difficult spots in your garden where hot sun and dryness make other plants give up. Only 3 feet tall and wide, it fits into small gardens, or it can be mass-planted in larger ones for drifts of beauty. It grows well in planter boxes too, and is a fabulous way to have a colorful summer that leaves you time to sit back and enjoy some real strawberry shortcake, knowing your garden is taking care of itself.
The Bellini Strawberry Crape Myrtle is a deciduous shrub that forms a low, dense bush just 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. Many branches fill it to the ground, and the glossy leaves keep it beautiful from the moment they appear in spring to the time in fall when they turn orange and yellow. They are only 1½ inches long and an inch wide, with a leathery texture and a smooth, glossy surface that stays healthy all summer, thanks to its resistance to powdery mildew. Every new stem that sprouts in spring soon develops a flower cluster at the end. A 3-inch ball of about 20 buds, each one lasts around 2 weeks, beginning in June. The ruffled flowers have the look of crepe paper, and they are a rich, bright strawberry red. As soon as a cluster fades new stems sprout just below it, producing more flower heads, and this continues well into September. Almost no other shrub delivers so much bloom, for so little effort. Seed pods don’t form, so no need to deadhead – a real bonus.
The strong coloring of the Bellini Strawberry Crape Myrtle cries out to be made into a striking combination – why not front it with catmint, renowned for its silver leaves and blue flowers? A killer combination if ever there was one. Or plant it in front of a panicle hydrangea variety, for a cool strawberries and cream look. Use this compact bush in flower beds, or tuck it between the evergreens around your home. Grow it as an edging on a path or driveway, or around a patio. It is perfect in planter boxes too, and can be left out all winter from zone 8.
Completely hardy in zones 7 to 10, the Bellini Strawberry Crape Myrtle will also grow in zone 6, with some winter damage to the stems. It will still bloom prolifically, though, just grow a little smaller. Mulch with bark or straw to help its survival. If you are growing it in a pot in zone 6, or even in zone 5, then place the pot in a cold shed or unheated garage for the winter months. Light isn’t needed, and it can take temperatures down to freezing.
Full sun is needed to get the best from the Bellini Strawberry Crape Myrtle, as even a little shade reduces flowering noticeably. It grows well in poor soils, and is happy in urban gardens. Established plants are drought resistant, but an occasional deep soaking will work wonders, and encourage continuous blooming.
Deer don’t bother the Bellini Strawberry Crape Myrtle, and it is generally free of pests. It has good resistance to powdery mildew, and stays fresh and clean through the hottest and most humid summers. Deadheading is optional, which is great if you are a busy person, with limited time to garden. Feed in spring, and through summer for plants in containers – you will really see the benefit and it only takes moments. In spring, trim back the branches from the previous year, and take out any weak or damaged stems. That’s all it takes to enjoy this great bush for another year.
Mike Farrow is a professional plant breeder and a graduate of the University of Maryland. He operates out of Earleville, Maryland, and some years back he decided to focus on a range of compact, ever-blooming, dwarf crape myrtles. a popular variety in the south, forming a large bush with purple blooms, that was discovered in Texas in 1957. The next year the seedlings he raised began to bloom, and he picked out one that was dwarf growing, with amazing deep-pink blooms. After further trials and testing he named it ‘Strawconbel’, and received a patent in 2021. He already had several plants in his Bellini® series of dwarf crape myrtles, and this one became the color Strawberry in that range. All these plants are made available under the Star® Roses and Plants brand of The Conard Pyle Company, West Grove, Pennsylvania.
We know how much you will love the Bellini Strawberry Crape Myrtle when it blooms in your garden (and blooms, and blooms. . .). Make your beds into a summer cocktail with this terrific new bush that is so versatile it can be grown almost anywhere. Order now – we have limited stock and new varieties always sell out fast.